Ahamed Ullah, back from Chittagong Hill Tracts:
Many sophisticated arms are being smuggled into Bangladesh from neighbouring Myanmar and India through porous borders in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Sources in law enforcement agencies and many locals gave the information during this correspondent’s visit to the CHT area.
An allegation is rife that the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF), the Jana Sanghati Samity (JSS-Santu) and the Jana Sanghati Samity are involved in arms trafficking.
The three regional political groups often smuggled sophisticated arms like AK-22 automatic rifle, G-3 rifle, MK-11 rifle, AK-47, AK-56 and M-16 rifle. The smugglers sell the arms to militant groups in the country.
Law enforcement and intelligence agencies suspect that CHT political parties are likely to stock arms to establish their supremacy in the area. This will help them achieve their goal of an ‘independent state’.
They are raising funds by selling these arms to militant groups, the sources further said.
Some members of the parties are collecting sophisticated arms from different insurgent groups in Myanmar like Arakan Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, the National United Party of Arakan, the Democratic Party of Arakan, Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front, Arakan Army, the Peoples Party of Arakan and Arakan Liberation Party and separatist groups in India like the United Liberation Front of Assom (ULFA).
Some areas like Harina in Barakol upazila in Rangamati, Sajek, Andarmanik, Fokirachori, and Bilaichori in Baghaichhari upazila, Naraichhari, Panchhari, Dudukchhari and Kedarachhari in Dighinala upazila, Baganbazar, Barobil, Achalong and Ramgar Bazar in Ramgarh upazila, Thanchi and Naikhyangchhari areas in Bandarban are the smuggling routes of arms and ammunition to the country.
On October 14, law enforces seized a Chinese sub-machinegun, a Germany-made G-3 rifle and a USA-made M-16 at Mahalchhari in f Khagrachhari.
Khagrachhari Hill District Council chairman Kongjari Chowdhury explained how these sophisticated arms are being taken to the country.
Talking to reporter, Chowdhury said smugglers are bringing the arms from insurgent groups of the neighbouring countries. “The arms smuggling is a serious threat to our national security.”
“Border guards, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are working in the areas to check arms smuggling. But how the arms are smuggling?” he questioned.
Md Mazid Ali, superintendent of police in Khagrachhari, said they have recovered a number of sophisticated arms from local terrorists. “We are investigating the arms smuggling into the country,” he said.
He further said they are yet to get any militant connection with local terrorist groups, who are allegedly selling foreign arms to militant groups to raise their party funds.
While interrogating some JMB members in connection with Gulshan café attack, the arrestees said the militants used three AK-22 machineguns brought from the CHT region for the terror strike, the sources informed.
JMB militants Rasel and Nayeem arrested in Chittagong admitted to the police during the interrogation that they collected MK-11 rifles from CHT area.
In cooperation with the terror groups in the hilly districts, militant groups were taking training in the deep forest in the CHT region.
Militants usually collect foreign grenades and ammunition from terror groups and all the arms and ammunition come to the country from the neighbouring countries.
- Source: The Daily Sun